SPACE GIANT NASA has opened sourced its mini Mars Rover project.
The company revealed that its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is hosting the initiative, called the Open Source Rover Project, which will allow students, hobbyists, and enthusiasts being to learn the skills required to build their own rover.
Using plans and instructions from JPL, the Open Source Rover is a scaled down version of Curiosity, a rover which successfully landed on Mars back in 2012. It even has the same 6-wheel steering and Rocker-Bogie suspension, NASA said.
JPL has published this design under an open source license on GitHub where anybody can download baseline instructions and test plans for building their own open source rover using a Raspberry Pi.
"We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers," said project sponsor for the Open Source Rover, Tom Soderstrom.
While the rover instructions are quite detailed, they still allow the builder the option of making their own design choices. For example, builders can decide what controllers to use, weigh the trade-offs of adding USB cameras or solar panels, and even attach science payloads.
"The baseline design of the rover has plenty of headroom in the power system and computation that will allow users to choose how they want to customize and add to their rover, touching on multiple hardware and software principles along the way," explained JPL.
NASA said test builds of this rover have already been constructed inside classrooms, leading to lots of different designs, ideas, and solutions to common problems.
"It was an extremely rewarding experience getting to work with the high school teams testing the build process," said JPL rover designer and engineer, Eric Junkins.
"They had a ton of great ideas and were so enthusiastic about getting involved in robotics and STEM in general. It was exactly what we were hoping to inspire with this project." µ
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